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By: gwyned, gwyned
Jan 18 2013 10:40am
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I. Introduction

One of the perennial strategies in Magic the Gathering is known as White Weenie. This deck archetype utilizes a large number of cheap, efficient White creatures to aggressively attack an opponent's Life total. These creatures typically are undercosted for their Power or Toughness, or are enhanced with combat evasion or some other potent ability. Then, this aggressive strategy is augmented with pump effects and removal, taking advantage of the diverse effects available to White in the Magic color pie to fend off an opponent long enough to achieve a quick victory. This deck archetype has been widely successful across multiple formats and skill levels, stretching all the way back to Alpha. To this day it remains a popular choice for new players and veterans alike. And Standard Pauper is no exception.

Prior to the release of Return to Ravnica, White Weenie dominated the Standard Pauper metagame. Not only did it capture the Season Championship Trophies for both MPDC and SPDC (the two weekly Standard Pauper Player Run Events), but also managed to place in 4 of the Top 8 spots in both events! It was clearly the deck to beat. Many players, myself included, hoped that Return to Ravnica, and the subsequent rotation of Standard, would finally dethrone the White Weenie strategy. And while the initial tournaments seemed to bear this out, recent events suggest that it may once again be rising to the top.

It is thus the purpose of this article to analyze the White Weenie strategy in Standard Pauper and offer some helpful tips on how to improve one's game against this archetype. Along the way I will examine the various options available to the White Weenie list and take a more detailed look at one particularly successful decklist. But before we get to that, let me remind you that MPDC is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 7:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room. You can also check out any of my previous articles by clicking here.

II. White Weenie, Analyzed

To start out, let's take a look at a White Weenie deck that finished in 2nd place at MPDC 19.08:

White Weenie
Played by PROboszcz in MPDC 19.08
Creatures
4 Ajani's Sunstriker
4 Attended Knight
4 Chapel Geist
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Loyal Cathar
2 Seraph of Dawn
4 War Falcon
26 cards

Other Spells
4 Break of Day
4 Pacifism
4 Swift Justice
12 cards
Lands
20 Plains
2 Haunted Fengraf
22 cards

Attended Knight


While lacking some of the more powerful effects found outside of Common, in most ways this is a great example of the White Weenie archetype. Nearly all the creatures have a converted mana cost  of 3 or less, and all of them are quite efficient for their cost, have relevant abilities, or both. Attended Knight, Doomed Traveler, and Loyal Cathar are all virtual two-for-ones, Chapel Geist, War Falcon, and Seraph of Dawn have combat evasion, and both the Ajani's Sunstriker and the Seraph of Dawn boast Lifelink as well. This powerful array of creatures is back by a small but potent suite of spells, with Pacifism serving as removal and both Break of Day and Swift Justice provided some needed creature pump. Additionally, this particular Sideboard has additional removal in the form of Bonds of Faith, Rebuke, and Avacynian Priest, creature protection from Spare from Evil, and some potent options in the mirror of One-Eyed Scarecrow and Keening Apparition, the latter of which is also quite handy against any Hexproof strategies.

It should be easy to figure out now why White Weenie is such a potent archetype. Turn after turn it drops efficient creatures with strong abilities, swinging them in to quickly overwhelm an opponent's defenses. An opponent's first significant blocker typically finds itself the target of Pacifism, and the next is deflected with a timely combat trick. Then, just when the opponent begins to stabilize, creature pump either augments an attack into an all-out Alpha Strike (thus killing the opponent), or generates enough power to effectively wipe out the opposing creatures. And should an opponent manage to bring their own suite of removal to bear, they still have to overcome the virtual card-advantage loss from cards like Loyal Cathar.

There are also a few additional cards that this deck can bring to bear. Against the Hexproof deck, White Weenie has one of the strongest matchups, considering that Keening Apparition, Ray of Revelation, Silverchase Fox, and Sundering Growth can all be brought to bear against it. Should highly aggressive Red decks rise to prominence in the metagame, additional good options for even more Lifegain are available in Cathedral Sanctifier or Elgaud Inquisitor. Farbog Explorer is another excellent Sideboard choice for dealing with Black-based decks, particularly now that MBC is making a comeback in the format. Finally, there are several other solid combat tricks available, including Glorious Charge, Moment of Heroism, Zealous Strike, and the best of the lot, Safe Passage. The flexibility and versatility of options in White is yet another reason this archetype is so strong.

III. Tips to Improve your Matchup

So, let's take a look at how you can improve your odds against White Weenie.

1. Make sure you have access to lots of cheap removal. One of the keys to White Weenie's plan is to swarm you with so many creatures that you can't possibly deal with all of them. Early on in the game, you are going to need a way to take out some of these creatures before you get overwhelmed. But if you are having to rely upon more expensive or hard-to-cast removal options like Murder, Victim of Night, or Brimstone Volley, you simply won't have time to stabilize against their early rush. Additionally, all other things being equal, more removal is going to be better than less against White Weenie. At times it's even worth putting yourself down a card by targeting creatures like Loyal Cathar if it means you gain enough time to set up your defenses.

2. Don't overlook the power of a timely counterspell. Some of White Weenie's best plays are fairly fragile and thus easy to disrupt. The first Pacifism that is cast is often critical for allowing your opponent to continue his or her attacks. Similarly, all of White Weenie's creature boost and protection can be sidestepped when spells like Negate or Dispel can be held until the proper time. But like the situation with removal spells, it's important that these counterspells be cheap to cast. Again, you simply won't have the time to wait for something like Cancel to find an opportune target when your opponent is swinging in with creatures turn after turn. Essence Scatter is perhaps not as good an option, but it is perhaps the most effective means of dealing with cards like Loyal Cathar and Attended Knight, and thus is worth consideration as well.

3. Have a plan to deal with Flyers. Since White Weenie often depends so much on its flyers, being able to deal with them effectively is important. While large flyers of your own (like Stitched Drake) are one effective option, simply having a card like Deadly Recluse or even One-Eyed Scarecrow can be quite strong in this  matchup. Additionally, since White Weenie does boast Flyers with 3 or 4 Toughness, it's important that among your removal options you include effective ways of dealing with these creatures, since cards like Pillar of Flame or Dead Weight obviously won't be effective against them. Of late, it seems that Murder, Brimstone Volley, and Thunderbolt are the weapon of choice against such creatures.

4. Find means of gaining incremental Lifegain. Like most aggressive decks, White Weenie relies upon quickly knocking down an opponent's Life total and finishing him or her off before he or she has time to stabilize and potentially bring better or bigger cards to bear. One of the best ways of giving yourself an edge in these types of matchups is finding ways of gaining incremental Life without having to go so far as to play bad cards like Angel's Mercy. Examples of such cards include Bloodhunter Bat, Cathedral Sanctifier, Centaur Healer, or Daggerdrome Imp. Again, the reason these type of cards are better than straight-up Lifegain is that you still get a relevant creature or effect for your trouble, while also getting a small but important Life boost. It simply is amazing the difference than even 3 or 4 Life gained in this manner can make.

5. Gain the edge through card advantage. Perhaps the biggest weakness of the White Weenie archetype is its difficulty in gaining any significant card advantage. This, then, becomes the method by which you can eventually gain the edge against your opponent after stabilizing and come up with the win. Early on in the game, you force one-to-one trades, often your opponent's creatures for your removal. Then, once you've survived the initial rush, you turn the corner by slowly but steadily building an advantage in the total number of cards you have access to, even if some of those are Lands. As the game transitions to midgame and especially to the late game, White Weenie simply does not have any powerful effects relative to that stage in the game. With access to some card draw, you ensure that surviving the early rush will indeed lead to a win later on.

IV. Principles Applied in Specific Decks

The first decklist is the winner from MPDC 19.07, that overcome two White Weenie decks in Top 8 before winning the tournament:


Izzet has the perfect combination of tools to have good odds versus White Weenie. It plays plenty of creature removal and counterspells, giving it cheap ways of keeping up with the rush of early aggression. It also has plenty of card draw to fuel a much stronger mid- and late-game than White Weenie. Stitched Drake, Nephalia Seakite, and Stormbound Geist are all decent blockers against WW's flyers, while Frostburn Weird is particularly good against WW's ground game. In many ways, this deck is tailor-made to compete with White Weenie, and is a great metagame choice when expecting a large percentage of the field to be in this archetype.

The second decklist is the winner from MPDC 19.09. Although White Weenie was largely absent from this particular event, I still believe this deck would prove strong against it.


As an archetype, Mono Black has recently reappeared in the metagame, earning strong finishes in several recent Standard Pauper PREs. Like the previous decklist, Mono Black illustrates many of the same principles needed to defeat White Weenie. It has a high count of removal, many of which are cheap enough to keep up with the flood of creatures from White Weenie. It has some decent card advantage engines, both in its draw spells and in its Graveyard recursion. While it lacks any particular strong card against Flyers, it is also much faster than Izzet, and is one of the few decks that may be able to race White Weenie in some games. I suspect that in the weeks ahead we will continue to see a strong emphasis on this archetype in the metagame, and part of that reason is simply its strength in the White Weenie matchup.

V. Conclusion

And with that, I conclude this look at how to improve your win percentage in Standard Pauper against White Weenie. I have recently started a new blog to cover all my Magic articles as well as my other writing and random musings called Writer Adept, so I would encourage you to check that out. Also, let me remind you that you can also get a sneak peek at my content before it goes live here at PureMTGO.com over on YouTube.com. Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my video-casts, and click the Subscribe button. You can also now follow me on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Let me also extend a special thanks to all my fellow Standard Pauper players. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts, watch the videos, and comment on my articles. See you next time!

1 Comments

Great Analysis by Copperfield at Fri, 01/18/2013 - 15:51
Copperfield's picture
5

This article made for some very good reading. I sat out this season of Standard Pauper to a) take a breather, and b) wait for all ten guilds to be released. But it does look like White Weenie is going to be the biggest problem in that season, too. Perhaps an update to this article is an order once all the Gatecrash cards are spoiled.

Also, I would be griping about the lack of a video in this article, but if people head over to your blog like they ask they'll find some pretty interesting Standard Pauper videos not found here :-) Keep up the good work!